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Welcome to Class!

This section provides very important information regarding how this course will function and what will be expected of you. So, please take the time to read all of the material provided. 

 After you have read the material in this section, you will be required to complete several introductory tasks. If you have additional questions after completing this section, please post them to the 'Course Questions' discussion topic on the discussion board. Don't be shy about asking your question(s). Remember, if something is not clear to is probably not clear to others as well!  Also, if someone posts a question for which you have an answer, feel free to help out!

 With thanks to WCJC’s Director of Distance Education, Professor Michele Betancourt, for her permission to use her Getting Started documents (including her exact words) in the Getting Started sections of our WCJC courses.


 About Your Instructor

Welcome to this online section of United States History II. My name is C.J. Bibus, and I will be your instructor this semester. I have been teaching online history since 2003 and both on-campus and online history for WCJC since 2004. My experience is that history is interesting but more than that it is useful for survival. History is about how things work.

I am a native Texan who attended a community college. I moved to Virginia for a master’s degree in history and then later returned to Texas to earn my doctorate. My doctorate emphasized teaching in the community college and the history of the early junior college just after 1900. I also worked in industry before returning to teaching in the community college in 2003. Much of my emphasis on evidence and factual accuracy comes because evidence and accuracy is essential for citizenship and I found that getting or keeping a job that paid well required those skills. I love history because it is beautiful and useful and my favorite subject.

If history is not your favorite subject, it may still be very useful to each of you. My life in industry taught me that learning history helped people learn how to think about real things—from biology to business.

I have a perfect daughter—all parents should feel that way about their children. The family joke is that she “brought me up as best she could.”

I am always trying to improve the course each semester. At the end of each semester, I take a survey to see what would help students. I also wanted to take advantage of the efforts of WCJC’s Director of Distance Education, Professor Michele Betancourt. I have copied her work in the Getting Started section in hopes of helping each of you. If anyone has suggestions to improve this course, feel free to let me know. I value and appreciate the input.


Course Communications

As this is an online course, our primary means of communication will be through email and discussion board areas.

Office Hours

Each semester I will post my virtual office hours. These will be posted as an announcement during the first week of the semester. During my virtual office hours I will be available to respond to student questions. Additionally I try to log in each day when you are taking Unit Exams.


Discussion Boards

The Discussion Section of the course is used for a variety of purposes. With this course, you can use the Discussion Board to get help or give it. You also can communicate with other members of the class—and not just in the graded area. I hope this section will help to create a sense of community for people learning history.

Everyone is encouraged to answer questions if they know the answer. One thing I learned in academics—but more in business—is to always double check anything you are about to say is true. It is a good habit that takes a few seconds but always pays off. I regularly read through the questions and answers. If there is any particular area of confusion or "bad" answers, I will send out the correct information as a general email.


There are several types of discussions in this area:

Course Questions: You should post general questions that you have related to the course in this area. This is generally the fastest way to receive a response. I will review and respond frequently. Students are welcome to post responses to questions if they so choose. Your participation in this discussion topic is optional.

Technical Questions: You can post questions about computer related problems here. I used to know a great deal about WebCT and the Blackboard version we used here at WCJC before May 2012. I am a novice at this Blackboard because I have only used it since May, 2012. If you have a problem, I do want to know about it. I may know a solution. If I don’t, I will tell you that. Also, many students have taken several online courses and have experienced similar technical issues. Remember that you can always click on the help button at the top of the course page.

Student Lounge: A place to discuss issues not related to the course. Your participation in the Student Lounge is optional. I rarely go into this area. If you have a question for your instructor, post in Course Questions or email me.

Student Introduction: A place to post a little bit about yourself so that other students and the instructor can know a little bit about you.

Unit Topics:  After Unit 1 starts, you will see Unit 1 Ask and Answer. These are for extra credit, but they are the graded discussions for the course. They let you ask or answer questions about the current content and about current assignments. You can earn those points in several ways.


Email / Telephone 

Reaching me through my Blackboard email (Messages on the left menu) is the BEST way to reach me. I can rarely check my WCJC email except at the beginning of the day. If you mail me within Blackboard email, I will generally respond within 24 hours (holidays and weekends being exceptions). At a minimum, I check the course messages at least after my last class on campus.

I am glad to help students online, with a phone call, or on campus. Rather than covering all the details that might be possible for a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, these ways have worked best with students in the past:

·         If you want to talk by phone during my online office hours, then use Blackboard email to tell me your phone number and ask me to call you.

·         If you want to meet me on campus during my office hours, then use Blackboard email to tell me that. I will respond back with my location at that time so we can meet.

·         If the above ways do not work, email me some possible times for you for a phone call or a face-to-face meeting and I will try to figure out some time that will work for both of us. I will then email you back with a proposed time.


Discussion Guidelines


For Ask and Answer Graded Discussions

Although your work in the Unit topics (the Ask and Answer topics) is extra credit, I do grade them. These are general guidelines that will be applied when grading your class discussions. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Whether you are asking a question or answering another student’s question, you need to be useful and brief and clear. Tip:  It can help a lot if you write your question (or answer) in a word processor and then copy and paste it into the message.

You can post a question about:

·         Content, such as a fact in the history that is covered in one of the Check Your Knowledge quizzes

·         Where to find something in our history textbook

·         What is required for a particular assignment or essay

·         Or anything that will help you learn the content covered in a unit and/or save time in learning

If you are answering a question, you also need to use verifiable and usable evidence. Those words verifiable and usable are from the back cover of one of my favorite books, In Defense of History by Richard J. Evans. (Those words in the context of history are worth talking about later if you are interested.) A common sense way to say how the words verifiable and usable apply to the Ask and Answer graded discussions is to use an old proverb:

·         If you give a person a fish, you feed him (or her) for the moment.

·         If you teach people how to fish, they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

If you answer a question (and if you want them to learn how to fish), include in your answer exactly where others can verify what you said—where they can see it and, if necessary, prove it for themselves.
Tip: You cannot use anything as a source except your textbook and links in the course. If you do not know what one or more words mean, you may use the online dictionary provided at Web Links, available from the left-hand menu. Do not use any other online dictionary.

To give two examples:

1.     If a student in the class asked where to find a printable copy of the quiz questions, you might write in your post the Learning module name and the name of the webpage and—if useful—what part of that webpage.
Tip: Alternatively, if you already know how to copy a URL in the course and place it in Blackboard’s Discussion postings, you can do that.

2.    If a student asked where in the textbook to find information on the Peace Policy, you need to say the location in a way that lets students using older editions of the textbook also succeed.

Fortunately for those on a budget (and many of us understand that reality), both older and newer versions of the textbook (except for the version listed with the word Caution in the Syllabus) usually have the same content in the same chapter number and under the same headings. All that is different is the page number since some of these books are in tiny print. Because the page number is different for some editions, you need to add what is the same in all cases:

·         the chapter # (such as 16)

·         and the heading, the bolded label above the content you found (such as “Indian Policies”)

So how could you answer the student’s question about the Peace Policy so all of us could use your information and verify it for ourselves? You might write this so you help those with the 4th edition and those with some other edition:

I am using the 4th edition in paper and the Peace Policy is covered on pages 414-415. OR you could find it in Chapter 16. The heading for it is “Indian Policies.”


Requirement to Post within Threads

If your question is about information in a thread already created by another student, then you must post within that thread. Blackboard provides video tutorials on using its Discussion tool. Learning about the tools will save you time. These two examples may help you understand why posting within a thread is useful for your colleagues in the class and why sometimes creating a new thread is useful.

Example 1: If a student had posted a new message called Reconstruction Act of 1867 and if you have a question about that act, you need to post within an existing thread:

1.     Click on the message Reconstruction Act of 1867.

2.    Read all questions and answers in that thread.

3.    If your question has not been asked or if someone asks a question that you know, then click on that message in the thread, click Reply, and then click Submit.
Tip:  It is a good idea to change the subject line so everyone knows what you mean.

Example 2: On the other hand, if no one has posted on Hamilton’s financial policies or on the national bank and if you are unclear on the meaning of the statement “bank notes circulated as currency,” you need to create a new thread:

1.     Click on Create Thread and write in the Subject line something that reveals your question such Hamilton’s national bank and Meaning of “bank notes circulated as currency.”

2.    In the body of the message, you would make your question as brief and clear as you can.

So you could write this in the message:

I am using the 4th edition in paper and the National Bank is covered on pages 179-180. OR you could find it in Chapter 7. The heading for it is “The National Bank.”

On 180, it says “bank notes circulated as currency,” What does that mean?

I know we are not to use outside sources, so how can I figure this out.


3.    When you finish, click Submit.

Late Discussion posts will not be accepted. Once the topic is locked, responses will no longer be accepted.


Points to Remember about All Postings

Read discussion topics and responses on Blackboard often. Reflect on these comments and contribute. Online discussions are learning opportunities that are equivalent to study groups or class discussions with instructors and other participants. By reflecting on and responding to questions and comments, you will develop your ability to articulate your knowledge and your concerns. We are here to learn the material, to help each other, to have fun, and to discuss matters of importance (at least I think history is important) with others.



Grading Timeframe

I know everyone is always anxious to receive feedback on your completed work, so I will make every effort to give you prompt feedback. I generally post:

·         Extra credit grades for quizzes the next morning after the date in the Course Schedule.

·         Grades for submitted assignments, postings, and essays once a week (Mondays).
I admit I am slow at grading essays. I try to give students the kind of feedback that my history teachers gave me. That feedback made a great difference in my success, not just in academics but also in business and industry.

Also, be aware that if everyone waits till the closing date, closing hour of a unit to submit assignments, discussions and exams, there might be a delay. I do grade, however, in the order that the assignments are received.


Success in the Online Environment


 Although this is a distance learning course, it is NOT a correspondence course; nor is it an independent study course. Specific deadlines are provided and must be met. Your remaining current in your work is required—and measured. While I try to build in a great deal of flexibility for you to work ahead in each unit, you cannot complete the course in a single weekend, but are expected to be part of the course for the whole semester.

This online version of United States History II is designed to require roughly the same amount of time a student would spend in a 3-credit-hour, on-campus class class. You will be expected to complete all of the learning activities and maintain an active presence in the class.


General points to remember:



Introductory Tasks


Great! You are almost finished. Before you get started with the content for this course, I would like you to take care of some "housekeeping" items. 




You can use the URL in the box to go directly to the Readiness Assessment. To quote the words in bold below, you are to take the assessment and to “save the final report and submit it” to me.
This is how you will submit it.
1. Look at the report on you. Find 4 to 5 statements that are recommended changes you can make to help you succeed. If I can help you succeed with any of those, then tell me. AND if the report had no recommendations, tell me that.
2 When you finish, select Print/Download the Report from the left-hand menu . (FYI: I do want more than just the Summary.)
3. Save the file in a location you can find again.
4. Using the instructions above for how to email me in Blackboard, attach the file, place those 4 to 5 statements in the message box, and type in the
Subject: Your Name – Readiness Report.

More information about the Readiness Assessment if you want it.

Distance education has recently updated our website to include an online assessment “Is Online Learning For Me?” 

The SmarterMeasure Readiness Assessment is a tool which helps determine the level of readiness for taking online courses. Students will be asked questions on topics in a variety of areas including: computer proficiency, motivation, organization, and self-direction; learning preferences; typing speed and accuracy; and on-screen reading speed and comprehension.

SmarterMeasure is provided to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses better as they prepare to learn online. After completing the SmarterMeasure assessment, they will view a webpage showing their scores in easy to interpret graphs and text, as well as resources to assist them in any “trouble” areas.…

Faculty might also consider using the assessment as an opening week task/assignment in their online courses. Students are able to save the final report and submit it if desired.   

Students can access the Readiness Assessment through the Distance Education Page on the WCJC website  at:  Or by directly going to


You will need information from the Readiness Assessment for this essay. Do that first.

The instructions for the essay are easier to read here than in the essay quiz:

The two purposes of this essay are 1) to let you see how Blackboard’s essay tool works and 2) to let you think about the traits of information quality (authority, objectivity, accuracy, and timeliness).

To learn about these 4 traits, you use the information in the Reading section of the Learning Readiness Assessment.

You may try this essay more than 1 time.

 Maximum length: 175 words.

Maximum time: 15 minutes.

The two purposes of this essay are not to grade you and not to put you on the spot in the first days. The purposes are:
1) to let you see how Blackboard’s essay tool works since we use if for the practice essay and the essays that end each of the three units
2) to let you think about one of traits of quality of information (authority, objectivity, accuracy, and timeliness). To learn about these 4 traits, you use the information in the Reading section of the Learning Readiness Assessment. You may try this essay more than 1 time. Maximum length: 175 words.


 Remember that these tasks are a graded component of the course.  Please complete them as soon after logging in as possible so that I know a little about each of you enrolled in the course. (If you are enrolled in both of my online sections at the same time you may use the same information for both courses - BUT it MUST be posted in both areas to receive credit.)


I am looking forward to a great semester.  If you have any general questions, please go to the discussion board and post it under general course questions section.  If the question is of a more personal nature, feel free to email me.




WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

Contact Information:

281.239.1577 or

Last Updated:


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